Grace for the Humble – Again!
by Sharon Betters
But He gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
James 4:6 ESV
This is our last devotional in the Life-Giving Encouragement series and it seems appropriate for us to circle back to where we started. In our first week, Jane Anne Wilson shared her thoughts on what it means to be a life-taker vs. a life-giver. I’m posting “Grace for the Humble” again to finish out this series because it captures the challenges and the joys of being transformed from a life-taker to a life-giver. We hope that this series has helped equip you to offer life-giving encouragement to those in your “village.” If you look forward to receiving Daily Treasure every morning, invite your friends to join us as the priceless treasures of God’s Word equip, energize and encourage us to walk by faith in the pathways God has marked out for each one of us. And now, a last word from Jane Anne:
“Several years ago, God turned my world upside down and put me on a pathway that forced me to learn how to be a spiritual life-giver when my instinct was to be a life-taker. If you had asked me if I was a life-giver, though I was unfamiliar with the term, I would have answered that I was. I am a mother to four children; certainly, that qualifies me as a life-giver! Three of them are not biological, but they still required a lot of labor and a lot of giving! I homeschooled all four of them! Hopefully, that was life-giving to someone, because it sucked the life out of me. I dearly loved the Lord and my family, and God’s church. If my God said that His design for me was to be a life-giver, then, of course, I was a life-giver, I thought.
“But then life happened and circumstances beyond my control broke my heart. I felt like the worst mother of all. Failure identified me. Guilt, shame, doubt and fear overwhelmed me. I failed at the highest calling I thought I had: motherhood. My self-righteous pride was shattered when my mothering did not bring the results I expected. I had been trying to be the best me that I could, fully expecting that I could glorify God by trying hard.
“Troubles often expose the idols of our heart. My default system reacted with self-righteous anger and hurt toward the circumstances and people involved. Little did I know that the very thing that broke my heart would open my eyes to the call to die to self so that His resurrection power could transform my self-righteous heart into a place that invited others to “taste and see that the Lord is good.” Little did I know that God was smashing this clay pot that held my prideful heart so that His exquisite love could shine through.
“God used that painful season to take my face in His hands and say through Scripture, ‘Behold I am making all things new. You’re about to learn that your self-righteous default system is a life-taker. Humble yourself before Me and be ready to die to self in order to see new life break through the hard soil of this messy place.’
“This journey of learning how to offer life-giving words rather than life-taking words is hard and sometimes excruciatingly painful. Learning to put God’s glory and purposes above my own and trusting that the Lord is doing things behind the scenes that are invisible to me, wearied my brain as I learned a new way of thinking. But along the way, God has given me grace upon grace and opened my eyes and heart to the power of humbling myself before Him, surrendering to the call to die to self, so that through Him resurrection life comes.
“Oh friends, I so much want each of you to experience the freedom that comes from surrendering to God’s way of responding to hard relationships. I have shed many tears, so that might not sound like fun, and frankly, it isn’t. But the angst is gone because I am not striving to promote my own agenda. Instead, I am enjoying more and more freedom, because my confidence is in God’s ability to achieve His agenda. That’s grace upon grace.”
LIFE GIVING ENCOURAGEMENT
Are you struggling with a difficult relationship where you are confident you are right and the other person is wrong? Do you strike out at every opportunity, determined to make your point and get them to see the error of their ways? Instead, read Today’s Treasure, write it out on a card or print a copy of the Today’s Treasure graphic. Tape it to your mirror or car dashboard and pray specifically for that relationship. Ask the Lord to reveal to you through Scripture, a way that you can begin building a bridge to that person’s heart, in a way that entices them to “taste and see that the Lord is good.”
Oh Lord, I know that this is not an easy message, but humbling myself before You has freed me from having to protect myself in difficult relationships. I know You are my shield, refuge, and rescuer. I pray each person reading this message will hear the help and hope in Today’s Treasure.
STORE UP MORE TREASURES
At some point in our lives, we or someone we know will go through great suffering. I encourage you to go to the MARKINC website and listen to our Adoption audio resource so that you can store up treasures of encouragement for the next rainy day in your life or someone else's. Here is a summary and teaser of this resource:
Well meaning people sometimes exhort adopted children to be thankful for the many privileges they have as a result of having a “forever family.” This resource encourages that gratitude, but also acknowledges that side by side with a grateful heart is often a broken heart as a result of feeling abandoned by their birth parents. In keeping with our goal to produce and distribute resources that address life crises that are difficult to discuss as well as how to help those experiencing them, we are grateful to offer this compelling interview that is designed to equip adoptive parents and adopted children to better understand the “primal wound” that some adopted children experience. In this candid interview, Dan and Laura Betters share their thoughts and plans for helping their adopted daughter process the grief and disappointment she might experience as she better understands adoption. Lisa Adams-Reese, a seasoned adoptive mother and woman who helps place adopted children with their families, offers her own experiences and wisdom that will free parents to intentionally develop an honest, safe place for their children to express any sorrow, anxiety or feelings of abandonment. We know you will be encouraged and inspired by their stories.